Sunday, May 30, 2010

Minions meet again!

If you've been following Jane's blog then you may know that a few of Evil Editor's minions are thinking of meeting up again - or you may not, because we talked about it in the comments.

We're planning on meeting on 4th July at the South Bank, London, England. If you want to be in on it then why not let us know either here or over at Whittering On?

Last time we had a wonderful time and you can read about and see pictures here. I know that some of you can't make it because England is too far to come. We'll miss you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Schrödinger’s Cat and Others - Guest Post by Nicola Morgan


Today I have my first ever guest poster on this blog and I'm very excited!

Nicola Morgan is a published author and has won awards for her books for teenagers. I first met her  at her blog Help! I Need A Publisher! where she offers advice to aspiring authors. She's has a forthright style and is proud to be the first Google result for Crabbit Old Bat.

Nicola's latest book Wasted has just been published and it's a remarkable book about chance, fate and luck. The knowing voice of the narrator opens up to you both what actually happens and also what might have happened, all depending on the toss of a coin. It's a risky approach that leaves the ending of the book in the reader's hands and Nicola carries it off superbly.

It's a privilege to have you here Nicola. Over to you...



IN WHICH I START TO WRITE ABOUT CATS AND END UP WITH A CHANCE DISCOVERY…

Fairyhedgehog’s blog looks like a very comfortable place for me to spend the day and I’m delighted she invited me to stop over on my blog tour. She says her blog is about books, writing, chocolate and cats – four things that suit me perfectly. She also says it’s about “things that take my fancy” so if we can include sparkly wine in that, then I’m your woman.

Anyway, cats. Two cats make important appearances in Wasted. There’s Schrödinger’s Cat, who gives his name to the band that take up Jack and Jess’s time (when they’re not taking up each other’s time…). Schrödinger’s Cat is a mystery, a paradox, a physical impossibility except in the weird quantum world, where the rules we (I) understand just don’t apply. But then cats, real cats, are mysterious, too. Whether you’ve owned cats or not, you’ll agree: there’s something otherly about them, something inscrutable, something that lends itself easily to magic and belief in the impossible.

And there’s a real cat, Spike. Spike is Jess’s cat. He is also an amalgamation of all the cats I’ve ever had. I’ve had four in total. Two lived to an old age – about 18, and they were twins – and two very sadly didn’t. They died at around one year old, one of a rare illness and one of a fast car. So, those two didn’t have the chance to develop the wisdom and maturity of Spike. But all were black, like him, and all were sinuous, and had fur that smelt of ironing when the sun shone on their backs. They all come back to life for me in Spike.


Here’s how we first meet Spike:

Spike jumps off the top of the wheelie bin where he has been sunbathing and comes to rub his body against her leg. She bends down and strokes his hot black back.

Sweet peas and deep raspberry pink roses clamber up some twisty sticks in pots and their smell is rich and fresh. It makes her want to breathe deeply. If you could trap moments and memories in a jar to taste later, this would be one: before arriving home, before anything, waiting, hoping, wishing, an unspoilt feeling. The present. Jess desires the future, but she is sometimes afraid of it. It is tangled with uncertainty. At least the present is something she knows. She is torn.

Spike pushes ahead of her as she opens the door.

Now, anything I was going to say about cats has gone out of the window because I’ve just noticed something. That last sentence implies a meaning that I’d never intended, but which is possibly true anyway: that Spike can tell the future. If you think about it, I’d just said something about Jess being uncertain of the future. And then I say that Spike “pushes ahead of her as she opens the door”. I bet if a literary analyst were unpicking the themes in Wasted, he or she would claim that I’d intended this and that it’s a metaphor for Spike knowing more and leading her towards her future. I didn’t, but I’m perfectly content to believe that the unintended meaning was there in my subconscious and influenced the words. It might have or it might not: we’ll never know.

So, what I’m going to end up saying is this: one of the main themes of Wasted is that in the visible world, as with the quantum world of Schrödinger’s Cat, everything we do, every thought we think, every sentence we write, has unseen, unmeasurable, unknowable consequences and causes. Nothing is on its own; everything is linked – including the four cats I’ve been privileged to live with, all wrapped up in Spike.

Spike even gets his own chapter in Wasted and the multi-point-of-view technique allows you to see what he thinks. If you want to read it, it’s on the Wasted blog on the page near the top, the page titled Extract.

Wasted has two alternative endings and each one affects Spike differently too. Cats may be independent but they are not separate. Because, as I’m learning more and more, everything’s connected even though we can never know all the connections.

So, I’m very glad I came on Fairyhedgehog’s blog because it’s just shown me something hidden in the words I thought I’d written deliberately.

Meanwhile, do visit the WASTED blog to read about quantum physics, Schrodinger’s Cat and a whole load of background info, ideas, experiences. As well as competitions for readers and writers of all ages.

And thank you for spending time here today!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Listen again?

Pacatrue is suggesting it's time for another reading-out-loud blogfest. I think it's a great idea. Who else is in?

Paca's post is here.

I'm excited


Tomorrow I'll be featuring my first ever guest post. And not any guest post! It's by an award-winning author and it has a cat in it. More than one cat. And quantum physics.

Don't miss it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thank you maybe genius!

As one competition starts another ends and maybe genius has picked my name out of a hat to win in her competition.

Many, many thanks. Just what I needed to cheer me up.

The competition result is here.

Free the Princess competition

Matt Delman has a fun competition going on over at Free the Princess. You're invited to write a short (three or four sentences) diary entry from the point of view of a fictional character. Closing date is the 29th June. Why not pop over there now and have a look?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to take a good photo


Today my Beloved and I went to Loseley Park to have lunch, wander the gardens, and take some photos for Disgruntled Bear. It didn't go entirely smoothly.



Oops!

Today only - free story from GUD

GUD magazine is offering one of their stories free, just for today. I enjoyed it.

Warning: coarse language and bodily functions but no sex or violence!

You can read The Prettiest Crayon in the Box here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

You are all great!

Thank you to everyone who donated money for Bevie's family. Stacy is going to send them a money order for nearly $500 ($498.08).

I'm glad to be part of such a wonderful community.

Sexual stereotypes strike again

I'm always amused when someone makes wild statements about men's or women's capabilities and then they're shown to be wrong.

Rob Thurman is a woman who writes from a male Point Of View. She guest posted over at Talk in the Shadows and wrote:

I even once received a fan mail that said ‘thank God, finally a man writes a male pov. Women can’t do it.’

Of course they can't.

It's so lovely to see the stereotype being proved wrong.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A thing of beauty


You may remember that Kate offered to redesign a couple of authors' websites. Well, she's finished Wendy's and it's fabulous. Why don't you go and have a look?

If you agree about the fabulosity, you might want to read Kate's Guide to author websites. It's a must-read for anyone setting up a website.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not much time left to help Bevie's family

If you haven't yet taken advantage of Stacy's kind offer to take donations for Bevie's family and you want to then you have roughly 48 hours left. Stacy's closing down the donation button (in her left sidebar) at 2:00 p.m. U.S.A. Central Time ("Chicago time") on Friday 21st in order to have enough time to get the money order and mail it out to Bevie's family.

The unrepentant cat


Bonnie (tortoiseshell) and Rufus (ginger)

They seem so cute coming towards me for a cats' treat but don't let their innocent looks fool you. Rufus is ASBO cat.

When he started limping yesterday evening after I shut him in for the night, I thought that this time he'd found something sharp to tread on in our garage, but no. The vet today found that as well as a swollen paw he has a cat bite on his shoulder. He's been fighting again. He's had an antibiotic jab and I've got pills to give him. Oh joy. And even better he has to stay in for a few days. I think I'll go crazy.

Is it any wonder he gets called The Monster, while Bonnie is Squeaky Cat?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Comfort reading

I've just finished the latest Kim Harrison book Black Magic Sanction which is pure escapism. I've read all eight books in the series now. They are definitely comfort reads - they pull me into another world where for a time I can forget about anything that's troubling me. A bit like alcohol but with no side effects and a much quicker recovery rate when real life calls.

Other authors I like for comfort reading are Diane Duane, Tanya Huff, and Terry Pratchett. What are your comfort books? Or do you prefer chocolate? (I like combining the two.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

On a happier note

Kate In The Closet has a birthday today and her fabulous husband has given her an amazing present. You might want to visit her blog and see.

Happy Birthday Kate!

Friday, May 14, 2010

One last thing...

Bevie had been ill for some time and wasn't able to work, so his financial situation was increasingly difficult for him and his family. We're not able to send flowers for the funeral tomorrow and in any case the money can probably be put to better use.

Stacy had the wonderful idea of setting up a PayPal account to take donations for Bevie's family. If you'd like to give a donation as the last thing you can do for Bevie, then why not pop over now to Stacy's Cafe. The donation link is in her left hand sidebar. When the donations are in, Stacy will send a money order to Bevie's widow as after discussion with the family this was agreed to be most helpful to them.

It's all that's left for us to do now. You can do it here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We never met

I can't help thinking about the charming book 84 Charing Cross Road. It's the correspondence between an American lady and an English bookseller, mostly about books. Sadly, they never met.

Just like me and Bevie. We only knew each other online for a year and a half but we got so much talking done in that time. When I checked back to see how long we'd been writing to each other I was amazed that it wasn't longer. We wrote every day. He was one of my closest friends. I'm finding it hard to take in that he's gone.

You may notice I'm not answering comments at the moment but I am reading them. That's about all I can manage for now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sad News

I heard today that my good friend Bevie James died in his sleep in the early hours of Thursday morning, 6th May. Many of you may know him from Evil Editor and from his numerous blogs. His son has asked me to let his online friends know what has happened.

Bevie was a warm-hearted man, full of caring for others and rather shy. He loved to write and stories just poured out from him.

He made a lot of friends online and inspired much warmth and affection.

He leaves a wife and son and I'm sure that your thoughts like mine will be with them. The funeral is on Saturday.

He is a great loss to us all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How do you translate a picture?


On your left you have the UK cover of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated and on the right the French cover. They look like two entirely different books to me.

The Guardian asks why book covers are reimagined in each country where a book is sold whereas album covers are the same the world over. I'm not convinced by their argument that
literary fiction is an easier sell in mainland Europe than in the UK or the US, so publishers there can be less overt in their attempts to grab the attention of customers
considering that the European (French) cover is also attention grabbing. Or maybe public breast fondling isn't unusual in France. Who can say?

The article is here. I'd be interested to know what you think.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Spelling

There's an amusing twist on Twain's plan to improve English spelling here. Well, it amused me!

Italian is naturally pretty much phonetic apart from knowing where to stress a word. English spelling is a nightmare to learn especially if you're learning it as a second language but I'd find it hard to recognise words if they were spelt fənetikly.

Would it be worth going to a sensible phonetic spelling for the sake of future readers? Or is our spelling too entrenched for that?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Caption competition

I thought it was time for some pussycat goodness.


Captions, anyone? No prizes except the admiration of your fellow blog readers.

Edited to add: the captions were so good, that I've put them into the main post. Thanks to everyone who contributed - you're all winners!

Fred decided to skip the main meal and go for the dessert. Old Kitty

"And another thing..." Richard

"Mom, I'm not drinking it if he gets his spit all over the dish!" Wendy Ramer

Dark cat is saying, "what do you mean you forgot the straws for the Vimto?" Whirlochre

Ginger, unfortunately, never saw the zombie apocalypse coming. jjdebenedictis

"Four dishes of food *and* the oven's on preheat? Don't you ever read fairytales? Idiot..." Mother (Re)produces

Fed up with dried food, Count Catula lunged for Ginger's jugular. Simon Kewin

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It must be spring


The weather's turned cold and rainy here and I've had to go back to wearing a coat and shoes. But it must be spring, because look at the ducklings on our local pond! There were about ten of them. One kept rushing off on its own and being chased by the geese. It looked so cute skimming across the water with its feet going full pelt like it was on a pedalo.

Magic Study

Edited to add: copy has now gone.

Does anyone want a copy of Magic Study by Maria Snyder? It's book two in a trilogy. I've got two copies so one is free to a good home. Just let me know.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My mistake


When I first started going online I chose to use a nickname because most people did at the time; the internet was still new and shiny and most of us were a little wary of it. Then later on I didn't want my playing online to be accessible to people who knew me professionally as a counsellor.

More than ten years further on I see lots of people using their real names. And why not? I don't think I've ever written anything that would particularly embarrass me, so my caution was unjustified.

What bugs me is that I've got a whole online presence complete with logo, colour scheme and voice under the name fairyhedgehog and it will be absolutely no use to me at all if I ever write stories that are publishable. For a start, I didn't even invent the name: I got it from a Terry Pratchett book. That didn't matter when it was just the login for a few bookchat sites but now I'm beginning to regret it.

My dilemma is do I abandon ten years of establishing a reputation or do I just hope that nothing I write ever gets published?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Web design follow up

If you would like an author website but don't know where to start, Kate has good advice for you over at her blog.

If you remember, she offered some free web redesigns the other day, but she isn't able to set a whole website up from scratch for free so instead she's offering you advice so you can do it. In part one she tells you how to know whether you need a website and crucially what to put in it and what not to.

Many of her points about the characteristics of a professional website apply to everyone, not just aspiring authors, e.g.
  • It is functional. It is clearly organized, easily navigable, there are no broken links, and it looks and behaves the way you expect it to on all major browsers.
  • It is well-written. For the love of God, have it proofread.
Worth a visit.
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